Archive for January, 2023

Mother, it’s an honour to be your children!

While the loving care and the protective embrace of the mother is an absolute essential in the formative years for one to evolve as a well-rounded individual, it is indeed a celestial blessing to have her around till you are well past the mid-fifties. And providence has bestowed upon me such rarified privilege that her unconditional love has been the only one constant in a life that had its share of extended uncertainties and occasional turbulence. In the radiance of that elixir love, every problem of life, even of Himalayan proportion, would dissipate effortlessly just as the morning mist would, at the first rays of the Sun. From a subtle glance to a stern warning, a suggestive advice quoting religious parables or a timely moral reprimand that saves one from gross misconduct, the myriad forms in which her all encompassing love would manifest remained baffling but were always timely!

During the school days, when the focus was on living every moment with careless abandon, mother had been the anchor that allowed me have all the childhood indulgences even when my rebelliousness in school and outside remained a source of constant embarrassment for her. The class teacher would repeatedly ask mother to see her in school only to endlessly complain about my over performance in school antics along with the under performance in academics. When father would flatly refuse to affix his precious signature on my red mark laden report cards, it’s the mother who would sign on them unhesitatingly, masking her disappointment, coaxing me all the while to study and perform better the next time, every time! She would wait in the evenings with a ball of cotton and bottle of tincture to dress up the bruises that I invariably carry home from the playgrounds and the soiled uniforms will all be ready—washed, dried and pressed, the next morning! Those childhood times remain memorable to this day only because mother stood rock solid in the background guarding and guiding me at every little step.

When I moved to college, my priorities and thus the demands from the parents changed drastically and here again it’s the motherly care and affection that helped me sail through unscratched. While father would provide money just enough to pay the fees, it was mother’s kitchen savings that funded the growing expenses of the teenager that ranged from money for the movie tickets to that for purchasing the latest fad, the corduroy jeans. On every exam day, she would take bath in the wee morning hours and go to the nearby temple to perform a special pooja for my success while I would still be in deep sleep. I could safely vouch that my moderate academic achievement is more an answer to her fervent prayers than to my engagement with studies. This communion with the Gods she did for all her five children with demonstrable results and that it was not just limited for their academic success is a standing testimony for her deep faith and unshakable conviction on matters divine. When one of us fell sick, along with the rudimentary medicines, it’s the Vibhuti that she marked on our foreheads with a prayer on her lips that cured us all, almost instantaneously and without fail!

This motherly love that she radiated so copiously were not directed just to her biological children. Later on when I got married, mother’s compassionate gaze fell on my spouse too and in ample measure as she ably filled a deep void in my wife’s life when she lost her mother early on. She took upon herself as her motherly duty to provide care and succour that comes quite naturally to her and for her daughters-in-law, she was just their mother to whom they can confide their innermost fears and draw courage from. For her grandchildren, she was the granny that any teenager would long to have and in this age of instant gratification, she would give them lessons on patience and perseverance drawing instances from epics and provide unending solace as they dabble with the challenges of growing up in a super-connected world! In her, they found a glorious continuum from the priceless past where values are paramount and their adherence as critical as breath and love and compassion are the two eyes through which the world is to be viewed!

While she was so loving that took all in its embrace, she was also magnificently detached from the mundane affairs of the world. Resting in the confidence of the values she has instilled in her children, mother would not concern herself with their individual affairs. In the many years before the end of her life, she spent most of her time in spiritual contemplation and was in supreme peace with herself. This extolled state of existence is, for certain, a lesson for all of us as to how a contented and a purposeful life should be concluded.

Humble, gentle, graceful and always cheerful, mother was a role model for all of us as to how a daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother, mother-in-law and grandmother should conduct herself. And as she bids goodbye to us physically, I could only say that it’s a priceless honour to be born as her child, perhaps the reward for the meritorious deeds done over many past lives!

And my siblings: Rajaram, Sankar, Jayanthi and Soumya join me in expressing our immense gratitude to her for being our Mother!

Forever in gratitude



January 13, 2023 at 8:34 pm 13 comments

Seventy-five years of excellence… And counting!

The quest for excellence has remained the key factor that distinguishes the highly effective and successful organisations from that of the mundane. And for organisations driven by the ideals of excellence, success is neither a chance of circumstances nor an accident of fortune that happen in illogical regularity.  For them, success is the cumulative result of a well-articulated vision, an organisational ethos that is people-centric and a dynamic yet an adaptive strategy that propel towards well-defined business goals– goals that are to be actualised on the bedrock of uncompromising principles. It is on these touchstones of excellence, Orient BlackSwan, a publishing company of unrivalled reputation, scores handsomely and hands-down! And as the company celebrates its seventy-five years of unparalleled service to the nation, it is only appropriate to investigate and dissect the key characteristics of this organisation that allows it to contribute so immensely for the purpose of education in the country.

Stephen Covey, the celebrated author, has identified seven cardinal habits that drive individuals and organisations towards excellence and it seems that is in the complete internalisation of these key traits that foster Orient BlackSwan to the iconic status that it enjoys in the industry today. Vouchsafed by many a renowned votaries of the Stephen Covey theory, practice and the assimilation of these habits come out of a deep conviction that long-lasting success is an extension of the ingrained values and principles and also that of the choices individuals and organisations make in their everyday transactions.  And Orient BlackSwan, over the last seven decades and a half, has amply demonstrated its unwavering adherence to this time-tested traits that’s fit to be a case-study in the realm of  business excellence.

At the time when the nation emerged from the shackles of the colonial rule, the Indian education was fully dependent on their erstwhile British masters, both for the framework of the educational system as well as for the content of the curriculum. The educational materials imported for the vast Indian student population were alien to the culture of the nation and there hardly were any textbooks published within the country. It’s in this scenario that Orient BlackSwan boldly ventured into a project of creating indigenous educational content that is firmly rooted in the Indian ethos to address the varied and unique needs of the Indian students. The organisation marshalled a battery of Indian authors and content creators, entrusted them with the freedom to experiment and innovate and the result were a slew of textbooks made in India, by Indians and for the Indian students. This pro-activeness is the one outstanding quality that distinguishes an organisation of vision from the one that’s focused solely on maximising profit through perpetuating the status-quo.

For Orient BlackSwan, the purpose of being in the publishing industry is to help create a strong and self-sustaining ecosystem that would impart high standard education for generations to come. While publishing quality textbooks is one part of this objective, the organisation relentlessly strives to empower teachers with the right training and focus on up-gradation of their skills so that the classroom transactions are as effective as the content. Orient BlackSwan is the pioneer in continuous teacher training programs in the country through which many thousands of teachers are enriched by this high impact training.  Thus, a very clear grasp of the End in Mind towards creating an educated society is yet another trait that sets it apart from others in the industry.

The philosophy that the organisation upheld in all its activities is a lesson in itself for all businesses to emulate. The core values and principles are to be upheld under all circumstances and for Orient BlackSwan, these are non-negotiable. Even under the temptation of grabbing a huge business or in the face of losing a big order, the yardsticks for all dealings are always compliance to the ethical principles and no cost is too big to uphold the core values that the company cherish. This uncompromising adherence to Always Values First is indeed a rarity in current times when businesses largely run on values of convenience.

The collaborative nature of the company’s projects are so designed that all stake holders turn willing partners in the successful completion of them.  The transparency, the free flow of communication and the adaption of feedback received across levels strengthen the sense of ownership and have a multiplier effect in the success of the all organisational endeavours. When tasks and its benefits are communicated effectively, a heightened degree of confidence is created across levels resulting in evolving a Win-Win culture and that’s what exactly Orient BlackSwan has mastered in creating, over and over again!

The effectiveness of an organisation is directly in proposition to its capacity to listen and assimilate market feedback and this trait is all the more crucial in today’s fast changing business scenarios. Be it in responding to the special needs of teachers to facilitate online classes during the Covid lockdown periods or in rolling out world-class digital products that are well integrated with traditional offerings, Orient BlackSwan has been a trendsetter, only to be imitated by others. This capacity to understand and to be understood by the market affords the company to effortlessly navigate the emerging ecosystem where blended learning would soon be the norm.  

The diverse workforce, comprising of staff from every state, region and religion is yet another uniqueness of the organisation and the inclusive culture practiced at every level has stood the company in great stride.  And this diversity is only matched by the even more diverse skill sets among the staff members which has unleashed enormous synergy across functions– from designing products to creating unique data management systems!

An organisation is only effective to the extent to which its staff members are happy and content and Orient BlackSwan has gone that extra mile to ensure overall wellbeing of its members. Be it in having a five-day work culture which is still a rarity in the industry or in envisioning a pension scheme much before it was even acknowledged by many organisations, Orient BlackSwan has always been a pioneer in devising myriad staff welfare programs. A case in point here is the compulsory paid annual leave travel to all the members! These are fashioned on account of the deeply held belief that only a well rested and rejuvenated workforce with opportunity to Sharpen the Saw of their skills can deliver to their fullest capacity.

It is a privilege to be associated with such an illustrious organisation and on this seventy-fifth year of its inception, we wish that Orient Blackswan continue to serve the nation and the cause of education for ages to come!



A staff member @ Orient BlackSwan.

January 6, 2023 at 4:13 am 3 comments

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